Flower petals rain down in papal basilica, commemorating miracle of summer snowfall
White flower petals rained down from the ceiling of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, recalling the miraculous summer snowfall that took place in the fourth century.
The tradition dates back to the year 358, when on August 5, the Blessed Mother, in a dream, asked Pope Liberius to build a church at a location she would indicate with snow in the middle of summer.
This year, due to anti-COVID measures, a limited number of people were allowed to attend this Mass.
“Well, I came because it's the day of Our Lady of the Snows. Since my name is Blanca [which means 'white'], it's my name day. I was excited to celebrate it at this Mass.”
Even those less familiar with the significance of the feast were curious to see what all the excitement was about.
“Well actually, I was here on a vacation, but then I heard there was a special service today, so I thought we should see it.”
“I know about the snow in the summer, and so there will be flowers representing the snow, but that's about it.”
The basilica also holds an image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, whom the Roman faithful turn to for protection.
“We're devoted because we're Romans, because we cherish the Madonna that Pius XII called 'Salus Populi Romani,' 'Savior of the Roman People.' She's the protector of Rome, and this celebration is fundamental.”
In March 2020, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis left the Vatican to pray before this image, asking the Blessed Mother for an end to the health crisis.